The Prophet’s šārtum u sissiktum “Hair and Hem” and the Mantic Context of Prophetic Oracles at Mari

in Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
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In this article I consider the strengths and weaknesses of theories regarding the mention of prophets’ šārtum u sissiktum (hair and hem) in prophetic texts from Mari. I suggest that royal correspondents sent along the prophets’ šārtum u sissiktum because they were part of the material locus of divine revelation, functioning as proxy omens. As such, they offered royal diviners an efficient and material means of cross-checking prophetic omens through extispicy-derived omens in order to discern divine directives for the security and success of the kingdom. Moreover, the šārtum u sissiktum constituted two data points within a larger divinatory system that discerned the divine will primarily through material and observable media.



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On which, see Lambert 2007; Finet 1969:101–30.


Moran 1969a:21. On the significance of oracles uttered publically, see ARM 26 206 (Nissinen 2003:38–39, and 73); Van der Toorn 1988.


Moran 1969a:22–23.


Huffmon 1968:121. Huffmon also contended that the šārtum u sissiktum provided diviners with a means of determining if the prophet’s oracle warranted attention; Cf. Janzen (1981:104), who follows Moran (1969a), but also Huffmon (1968a).


Heimpel 2003:256. Cf. Nissinen’s rendering, “The purification should be performed” (2003:36). On ritual cleansing for zakû(m), only at Mari, see CAD Z:32; Cf. the same ritual in ARM 26 216.


Durand 1988:57.


Cf. ARM 26 186; Durand 2008:572.


Durand 1988:57; cf. Heimpel 2003:256; ARM 26 242. Note that Huffmon has to supply the object suffix for lizakkû.


Heimpel 2003:256.


Lns. 27–31; Nissinen 2003:68. Heimpel (2003:268) feels that the hair and hem must have come from the prophetess, and not the messenger (Addu-Duri) herself.


ARM 26 233; Nissinen 2003:63; Durand 1988:474, 476 (lns. 53–54).


Oppenheim 1952:131; CAD t:65c.


On Dagan at Mari, see Feliu 2003:62–213. On oracular inquiry to Dagan, see esp. p. 156. See also Hoskisson 1986.


So Heimpel 2003:265 and Nissinen 2003:30.


Bahrani 2008: 77–78.


On which, see Finet 1969; Lambert 2007:15–16.


Uffenheimer 1999:58–59.


Wilson 1980:102. This supports Wilson’s contention that āpilum occupied a peripheral role at Mari.


Nissinen 2003:36 (#14 = ARM 26 204), 68 (#42 = ARM 26 237).


Heimpel 2003:264.


Heimpel 2003:261.


Huffmon 1968:121, writes, “In tamitu texts—oracular questions put to certain gods—the person for whom the priest put the question was symbolically present, commonly through a piece from the fringe of his garment or from his fingernail.”


Bottéro 1992:106.


Heimpel 2003:247.


See Nissinen 2003:70.


Translation from Heimpel 2003:268.


Walton 2006:249.


Translation from Heimpel 2003:184.


Ibid., 246 (ARM 26 184); Durand 1988:366–67 (26/1 no. 184:13–14); For additional examples using “dirt clods,” see 26/1 nos. 103 and 153.


Heimpel 2003:234.


On Tuttul, see Heimpel 2003:626.


Lambert, 2007:86.


Dalley et al. 1976:65; CAD S:323 c. Cf. also the use of the king’s clothing to make his body present in the much later Neo-Assyrian substitute king rituals (e.g., SAA 10 189 and SAA 13 37).


Following Durand 1988:306 (142:9–10); cf. Heimpel 2003:235. In ARM 26 155 a similar, though broken, statement occurs.


See Winitzer 2010:189–91.


Nissinen 2003:65 (#39 = ARM 26 234) and 74 (# 47 = ARM 26 371).


Heimpel 2003:266.


Seem Malamat 1987:45; Cf. 1 Sam 3:7.


See also Nissinen 2003:73–4 (#47 = ARM 26 371). For a review of Mesopotamian medical diagnostic omens (symptomatology), see Rochberg 2004:92–97; Heeßel 2000.


Huffmon 2000:50. Huffmon’s text comes from Dalley et al. 1976:64–65. See also Lambert 1966:120–21.


Bahrani 2008:77–78.


Kitz 2003:24, 30. Walton (2006:249) endorses and develops Kitz’s claim about materiality.


See ARM 26 182, 198, and 184 in Heimpel 2003.


Nissinen 2003:53. See also A 1121+ A2731.


See Fleming 1993:175–183.


See Van der Toorn 2000:80, who details the entire process.


Parker 1993:61.


Nissinen 2003:69. Cf. Malamat 1998:94–101.


Nissinen 2003:40.


See Nissinen 2003:47 (ARM 26 212), “The [mes]sage which Annui[tum se]nt to you and the one I inquired for are identical.” This statement likely means that the general outcome, and the not the specific wording, of the response was identical—i.e., favorable.


Wilson 1980:101.


Moran 1969; Janzen 1980.


Huffmon 2000:49. On the peripheral status of prophets at Mari see Wilson 1980:101.


Guinan 2003:421–22.


Oppenheim 1974:204, cited by Annus 2010:2. See also Koch-Westenholz 1995:138.


Kitz 2003:24.


Nissinen 2010:344. Cf. also Maul 2007:362.


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